Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The author has succeeded in conveying the large significance of small events in children's lives...as children experience them. ~Library Journal
I couldn't have said it better myself. (And believe me, I tried.) The Moffats is another gem added to the shared landscape of our imaginations. Eleanor Estes is brilliant when it comes to thinking like a child. From the sense of awe inspired by the chief of police, to the dread felt every time Jane saw the For Sale sign on their little yellow house, so many of the experiences related in this tale really resonated with me. I wish I had read it in my childhood but am so glad to have shared it with Levi.
The story seems to revolve mostly around Jane who is nine years old, although the other siblings certainly play often into the plot. Joey is twelve and Sylvie, fifteen. Rufus, 'the baby', has turned five and starts school for the first time.
Published in 1941, The Moffats contains a refreshing vocabulary and many outdated references which always add to our discussions. Hitching posts, coal stoves, and scarlet fever are things which seem foreign to us in this day and time. I love the independence, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and respect shown so often by children in older stories. Families also had to make do or do without much of the time.
Why is it, I think I've asked before, that a large percentage of children's books appear to have a parent missing? The Railway Children, The Saturdays, The Penderwicks.... Mama is the lone parent in this book, Papa having died when Rufus was just a tiny baby.
Our favorite words found on the pages of The Moffats:
A humorous byproduct of the older literature we have been reading (even his reading time with Dad--The Hardy Boys), Levi has taken to calling me 'Mother' in a charming voice rather than Mom.